Courses

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I. TEACHING

The objectives of the Department’s faculty, at both the undergraduate and graduate level, are considered at three different levels: content, mental abilities, and social commitment.

i. At the content level, our goal is to provide our students with the information that will allow them to understand ideas, problems, facts, and the relationship between the past and present, as well as that with the future.

ii. At the mental abilities level, our intention is to provide our students an education that will increase their reasoning, communication, and critical thinking skills as well as their creativity.

iii. At the social commitment level, we seek to nurture in our students the intellectual coherent foundations fostering a connection between their thoughts and attitudes, advocating their conduct towards the promotion of a more prosperous and freer society, as well as greater progress and prosperity.

(However, the difficulty of stating objectives is actually accomplishing them. The success of this proposal relies on how the students apply their knowledge and abilities and their willingness to accept this commitment.)

In order to achieve these objectives, we must examine the goals, the content and methodology of our courses: core courses, electives or special courses.

Core courses The Department’s core courses are Ideas and Political and Social Institutions (given in three semesters), Problems in Contemporary Civilization (given in two semesters), Socio-Political History of Mexico, and Problems in Contemporary Mexican Reality.

Our students take these required courses so that they may learn worldviews, their methodologies, society’s current socio-historical situation and civilization’s problems as a set whose elements are co-dependent. In doing so, they may reflect on them in-depth, logically, and responsibly.  

In these courses, preference is given to the most significant topics and authors according to their established criteria.

The participatory method, based on dialogue, is the appropriate method in these courses,  thereby allowing students to comment in class and analyze the proposed topic of the assigned reading, a text that must be prepared before class.

Given the variety of issues to be considered and taking into account that our courses are principally formative -while at the same time never underestimating the importance of their informative content- we do not presume to address them in their entirety. In addition, we do not promote unanimity or uniformity in our student’s opinions, but instead we encourage pluralism in our classrooms which fosters a careful and in-depth exploration and discussion of the topics.

The professor’s role is not only to moderate students’ participation but to focus the group activities on accomplishing the course objectives. As another participant, a more knowledgeable one, the professor has a right to express his/her point of view regarding the topics, while never impeding students from reflecting and taking a stance. Moreover, it is important that the professor makes sure that the students have read the text carefully.


Each student is required to do the necessary preclass reading in order to achieve the course objectives and follow its established methodology.

The series of core courses is as follows:

Ideas I • Ideas II • Ideas III • Pol. Hist. Mex.

Problems I • Problems II • Cont. Mex. Soc.

Ideas and Political and Social Institutions

The main part of these courses is made up of texts of philosophers that have greatly contributed to the creation of a worldview or its integration, by means of a rational method or an equivalent way in which they can thereby situate their socio-political ideas.

We consider as worldview an all-encompassing understanding of the world as well as the moral stance with which it entails. To reach this clearly conceptual level and incorporate a coherent whole that claims universal validity, one must apply a rational method in direct contact with that worldview’s fundamental elements. This method is sometimes copied from another existing discipline.
Despite its originality, a worldview is not independent from a social context (the events, feelings, beliefs, attitudes and means of interaction which make up the content of each human group) and of the intellectual tradition in which they occur.

Accordingly, these thinkers are framed in an historical context whereby their diverse lines of thought are highlighted through specialized studies introducing the time periods and their ideas.

It is important that the steps which led to the creation of each system of ideas are emphasized and their role in producing a reasonably coherent structure is explained. By doing so, the students will become aware of each system’s productiveness (in a socio-historical perspective) and the different world views they made possible.
The Western World of today is the point of reference of such productiveness or vitality in this course. 

First semester’s content: Ideas and Political and Social Institutions I
Second semester’s content: Ideas and Political and Social Institutions II
Third semester’s content: Ideas and Political and Social Institutions III

Problems in Contemporary Civilization

We deem “problems of the contemporary civilization”: all expressions and manifestations of man or aspects of our current reality which warrant our discussion.

The elements which have influenced our contemporary problems are various and closely related. So, the selected texts attempt to demonstrate reality by exhibiting how the factors, which are inherent to it, are interrelated and by displaying it as a set of problems. Furthermore, preference should be given to the most current issues.
 

The authors, who analyze these problems and provide their interpretations and views, must be experts in their fields, and on both respects, an ideological pluralism must be maintained.

First semester’s content: Problems in Contemporary Civilization I
Second semester’s content: Problems in Contemporary Civilization II

Socio-Political History of Mexico

This course’s content covers the facts and the main events of Mexico’s history from Pre-Columbian times until the Porfiriato years. Furthermore, it addresses the different social and cultural levels.

In every historical period, we analyze texts of renown specialists, emphasizing the period’s most significant characteristics, relevant documents, and the international context.

We stress how this course is closely related to the series of courses, Ideas and Political and Social Institutions.  Mexico is not isolated from the Western ideological context and its historical development; thus, we require our students’ previous knowledge to critically approach these ideas and institutions.  This evaluation complements the analysis of the perspectives which have shaped Mexico’s history and national spirit.

Content of Socio-Political History of Mexico

Problems in Contemporary Mexican Reality

In this course, problems are defined as areas or significant characteristics of the current Mexican reality warranting attention and discussion. They will be discussed integrally and not independently.
These problems are addressed focusing on their interactions with social, economic, technological and cultural change, as well as the continuity and innovation which distinguish them.

The course embraces the contemporary Mexican reality, namely, its purpose is to analyze Mexico’s socio-political and cultural position in the twentieth century starting from the Mexican Revolution.

The course’s content is theme based and requires the knowledge of the following prerequisites: Socio-Political History of Mexico and Problems of the Contemporary Civilization.

Content of Problems in Contemporary Mexican Reality

Electives and special courses

While these courses differ in context, they are always within the Department’s academic area of studies. The electives are chosen according to the professors and the university community’s interests and availability. The special courses, in accordance with the requirements established by ITAM’s various disciplines and postgraduate programs, follow the departmental system.

The content of these courses will vary in terms of methodology and specific goals.
The latter are always within the Department’s framework for teaching objectives.
In terms of methodology, we seek to use both the participatory and expository approaches.

II) RESEARCH

The Department has directed its research activities, mainly but not exclusively, towards teaching in conformance with ITAM’s standard policies. 

Our research covers:
• Program analysis and development.
• Selection of texts and teaching material.
• Study of sources and translations.
• Revision and continual updating of texts.
• Preparation of biographical references on those authors and philosophers being studied, critical reviews on their texts, as well as appendixes for the historical backgrounds for the core courses.

Since Fall 1984, the Department has strived to conduct research not directed at instruction. Such an effort has progressed in a cautious and well scheduled sequence of projects, following ITAM’s standard policy on the matter.

Basically, this research has led to publications in two different genres: specialized articles published by the Department and showcased in the Estudios magazine, and in books for course material.

III) EXTRA CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES

Conferences, round table discussions, and seminars

The Department of General Studies, in agreement with ITAM’s objective to "provide the surrounding community access to this institution’s cultural heritage", as well as to the university members, organizes these extracurricular events in three traditional venues: conferences, round table discussions, and seminars or diploma programs.

Publications

The Department has deemed imperative and appropriate to develop their own publication area, which is in accordance with ITAM’s goal to "create the systems and mechanisms for the distribution of research results and to plan events of a scientific and technical nature which may contribute to foster a well-informed society” and moreover, the implementation of a critical and broad-minded university community. Estudios is representative of this goal.
 

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